When I was a young adolescent growing up in the suburbs of Texas, I always felt a little different, for many reasons. In ways that at the time I couldn’t quite put my finger on. My skin made me different; my hair made me different; I wasn’t a “girl” in the ways I was supposed to be. I played basketball with the boys, I marched the snare drum and tenor drums in my high school drumline, I lived in my low top all white Converse Chuck Taylor’s and you would not ever, EVER catch me dead wearing pink or in a dress.
As I grew older and became more confident and at peace with who I was I began to look for the places where I fit. The places where I did not have to pretend or ignore the truth of my story and journey. I got pretty good at recognizing the places where I had to become a shell of myself to fit in and I learned to stay far away.
In March 2023, I attended The Academy for the first time through the Nth Dimensions Medical Student Symposium Scholarship program. I had the honor of attending the 2nd annual Pride Ortho Luncheon.
And I found that I fit.
If you told the young adolescent version of me that she could be her most authentic self one day without feeling shame or guilt, she would not have believed you. The sheer ambiance of joy, acceptance, camaraderie, conversation and love shared communally over plates of food that late Friday afternoon was indescribable. To be able to meet, chat with and shake the hands of LGBTQIA+ and Ally Orthopaedic Surgeons that I have only known through #medtwitter and social media was truly a full circle moment.
To be able to tell Dr. Jaime Bellamy and the Pride Ortho team how much they mean to me and how influential they have been to me as a 3rd year medical student almost brings tears to my eyes all over again.
See the support of The Academy Presidential line who attended the luncheon and Dr. Kevin Bozic, current Academy President tear up as he told us a heartfelt story of his former co-resident and friend who had to hide who he was during his time in residency was a touching moment that I will remember forever.
It was a reminder that the LGBTQIA+ Orthopaedic Surgeon pioneers before me walked so that I could run. So that one day I can openly talk about my partner in conversation without fear of repercussions or judgement. So that one day when a colleague asks me if I’m married and what my “husband” does I can confidently correct them and say “She is a Creative Director”.
To know and see the field of Orthopaedic Surgery working to become a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem is so inspiring to watch.
To know that one day people like me will fit. Fit well and thrive. That is a day I look forward to.
And while we still have some work to do, the celebration of the work that has been done is something to be incredibly proud of. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you Pride Ortho.
Authored by: Desiree E. Ojo, Third Year Medical Student at The University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine
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